Friday, 18 November 2011

Love Field

There is more weight to Love Field a 1992 released USA independent film with Michelle Pfeiffer and Dennis Haysbert who are two individuals with spectacularly different reasons for taking a Greyhound bus from Dallas heading for connections to Washington DC. Michelle plays a housewife beautician, suffering the loss of a pregnancy and married to a stereotype male more interested in beer, watching games on TV, having his wife cook and tend to his needs on demand. He does not share her enthusiasm for JFK as the only politicians she ever voted for and adores his wife with scrapbooks filled with pictures and articles.

She takes time off to help a neighbour who is wheelchair bound to go to Love Field, the name of the airport, to see the President and his wife arrive. Because of Traffic problems they arrive just as the plane lands and a security man/policeman enables them to stand at the barrier with a good chance of shaking the hand of Jacqueline as she walks their side of the line. Unfortunately the woman she accompanies has dropped her purse (handbag) and while she is retrieving this the President’s wife shakes the hand of her companion and she misses close contact.

Later she arrives at the hairdressers/beauticians and notices crowds outside a TV shop window and they learn the news of the assassination. She is devastated and decides she must attend the funeral and makes plans to attend the funeral when it is known where it will take place. He husband refuses to take time off so he can drive her despite the incentive of staying at the same motel they used on their honeymoon so she goes off without his knowledge taking the Greyhound.

She sits at the back just in front of the seats used by “the coloureds” with Haysbert in what one critic described as a Sydney Poitier standard role but as with Pfeiffer both actors quickly transcend the stereotype characters that have been created for them. She is talks without thinking at great speed, jumping to conclusions and judgements emotionally on impulse without rational basis echoing the prejudices of upbringing and lack of education. She is a typical while working class American of that era.

Haysbert plays a father who was not ready to marry the mother of their daughter when the pregnancy was determined. When the mother died the child appears to have been cared for by the maternal family or foster parents who mistreated her physically so that she flinches when anyone goes to touch. Ffeiffer discovers this when the toilet for ‘the coloureds’ is closed and she take the child into the ‘whites only’ and discovers bruising. She accurately assumes that the child is being kidnapped and the man is the perpetrator and contacts the police giving her particulars. She breaks off and quickly learns that that the story that the father had undertaken his national service and on learning of the death of the mother had gone to find the child and immediately discovered the ill treatment. He was able to show pictures of the girl as a baby with her mother and himself to confirm the story and that because he was not the legal father he taken the child without going through the legal process to immediately protected. The days before DNA!

The coach is then forced off the road to avoid an accident and they are taken to the nearest Bus and Coach station to await a relief vehicle. Because from his rear seat he had noted a drunken driver trying to overtake he is required to give evidence and the local police become concerned as an officer has gone to the address of the Ffeiffer and alerted the husband to where she was and the possible destination. They decide to jump the bus leaving her case on the vehicle but he has his own and the child’s clothing with them.

They steal a clapped out car that only does 40 MPH but they get this fixed along the way but eventually it breaks down and they have to overcome an attack on him by three white men while she is away trying to get help and the girl hiding in the car. Fortunately she has a distant relative in the area and they are taken in while he recovers. The woman cooperates with keeping silent when the local sheriff calls to enquire among all the isolated properties in the area because they are on the look out for the threesome after it has been established that the man was involving in the kidnapping of the children and was being helped by the white woman.

This relative contacts the husband who comes to take his wife home but she refuses and it is evident this marks the end of the marriage. There is to be no happy ending though as such because the couple recognise the inevitable when attempting to get to the Presidential funeral at Arlington. He is given a custodial sentence but in the Washington area when Ffeiffer also settles and keeps in contact with the girl. The final scene is his release. Ffeiffer is divorced but managing on her own with the road trip having enabled her to stand on her two feet, grow up and understand more of the reality of the society and the prejudice that existed and continues to do so. Her performance led to a nomination for an Academy Award for an actor in leading female role.

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